Taming the autonomous vehicle

Anthony Townsend discusses possible scenarios for the future of AVs.

December 18, 2018

Recorded on November 3, 2018.

Climate change and economic inequality pose immense and inextricable challenges to the United States: How to reimagine the American way of life to address the impacts of global warming, and how to build a new and robust economic structure that offers viable and sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles across the income spectrum for all Americans.

The Five Thousand Pound Life—an Architectural League initiative of public events, digital publications, and a planned design study—is a contribution to what must be a collective effort spanning geographies, generations, occupations, disciplines, and ideologies to address these challenges.

The driverless revolution is a profound opportunity for cities to press the reset button. What technologies, companies, and services are in the pipeline? Whom do they benefit and whom could they harm? How can cities prepare for their arrival and shape their development?

In this video, which was recorded at the 2018 Ground Transportation and Climate Change conference, Anthony Townsend discusses a variety of possible scenarios for how autonomous vehicles may affect land use and city form, who is controlling the trajectory of their development, and what kinds of planning institutions and processes we need to direct them towards a positive future.


Anthony Townsend is an expert on the future of cities and information technology. In recent years, his research has focused on autonomous vehicles and the future of mobility, how data and artificial intelligence are reshaping urban life and urban governance, and how cities are planning for technology. He is the author of “Autonomous Vehicles: Future Scenarios for Cities”, in partnership with the National League of Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation, and Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. He has written for Scientific American, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and appears frequently in technology and business publications and broadcasts including The New York Times, The Economist, NPR, and Time.